The Licensing and Price of Web FontFonts

RahimSnow's picture

I can't tell you how excited I am that WOFF is a real standard, supported by a real browser (Firefox 3.6), and pursued aggressively by a talented and prolific company like FontFont that just released more than 30 of their most successful families.

I am even more excited that my favorite FontFont family Milo and Milo Serif is among them. I have licensed many weights of Milo and the entire family of Milo Serif. And I have been wanting to use them on the web without using any hacks (Cufon, SIFR) or have them hosted somewhere (Typekit). I want the WOFF version so I can host it myself. So I have been very excited to learn that the Milo family was released in WOFF format.

And yet my excitement came to a sudden halt due to 2 things:


Reading About Web FontFonts, I find this statement:

While standard desktop fonts are licensed by the number of users or workstations using the fonts, Web FontFonts are licensed by the average pageviews per month of all the domains within the licensing organization. There are three simple license levels: up to 500,000; up to 5 million; and up to 50 million pageviews per month.

And what exactly is a pageview? In the blog comments, Ivan Bettger writes:

A pageview in this case is defined as a request to load a single page on any of your sites that use the licensed Web FontFonts. A refresh or a clickthrough would count as a pageview.

Depending on the architecture of your site, that could add up very quickly. I thought pageview was a metric that might be necessary if FontFont was hosting these fonts and needed to charge more to those who are requesting the fonts more (e.g. putting a strain on their servers and bandwidth).

If I am licensing the WOFF fonts and have them stored on my own server, how does pageview even come into play? If I was licensing the OTF versions for traditional publishing purposes, this would be like charging me less if my newspaper has a small subscriber count (a local zine) and charging me more if I'm the New York Times.


As I said, I have licensed the entire FF Milo Serif family. It wasn't cheap, but I am happy to pay for the quality and artistry of Mike Abbink's work.

Now I simply want to use the web versions of this same family but there is no explicit path for me to extend my existing license onto the web. If there is a path, please let me know.

Due to the pageview-based licensing, the price is unexpectedly high.

Keep in mind: each of the 12 fonts in the Milo Serif OTF family are sold for $65 for a total of $780.

Now if I want to license FF Milo Serif Web (WOFF) for

personal (500,000 pageviews/month), the cost is $583

business (5,000,000 pageviews/month), the cost is $2332.00

professional (50,000,000 pageviews/month), the cost is $8745.00

So for me, a previous license holder of the OTF version, that would be $583 on top of $780. Wow. Yes, I know a lot of work went into making the web versions. I know you have your own overhead. I'm not asking for it to be free. But $583? 3/4 the price of the OTF?

Keep in mind that these are all WOFF fonts that will sit on my server. Neither FontFont nor Typekit have to serve them for me. I don't take up their bandwidth or server space or anything.

So with my OTF family, I can print 50,000,000 issues of a newspaper, and the licensing will cost me just what it does if I use it on my one computer. But with the WOFF family, I have to pay depending on how popular my site is. Now, before you go and tell me that 50,000,000 pageviews would take X number of years to achieve and what not, I just want you to think about the principle of it.

Another way to think about is this: suppose every time you fire up Photoshop and use your favorite FF font, there is a counter that counts how many times you accessed that font. And you have to agree that you will stay inside a specified number of times that you are allowed to access that font before they hit you with overage charges. (just like the minutes on your cellphone)

OTF licensing is usually per computer in a single organization. WOFF licensing is per pageview. If we changed OTF licensing to reflect how many readers you have, would that make any sense? Why does it suddenly make sense for the web? I am not repeatedly accessing a service on your side. I am accessing a digital asset that I have licensed from you and it will live on my side.

Bottom line: the current Web FontFont license is metering my use of their fonts. This is a showstopper for me. As much as I wanted to use FF Milo Serif Web on my websites, I can't do it due to the reasons given above.

I would like to request that FontFont withdraw this pageview-based licensing scheme and give those of us who have already invested in the OTF version a generous and reasonable license extension. We are your customers. We enjoy your work. We want to continue working with you. Please work with us on this.

Thanks for listening.


John Hudson's picture

Okay, so this is a showstopper for you; it may not be for other FF customers. Remember, this is a new medium for font licensing, a new market, a new business model, and, so far, very little experience on anyone's part. It seems to me that FontShop are testing the waters, and I expect their eye is on what the response will be from larger, corporate, government and media customers will be. Which is not to say that they don't care about your opinion or your custom, but that they are sensibly trying out a model that they think will maximise their financial return. If this kind of licensing turns out to be a showstopper for too many customers, then that implies the market is different from what the font vendor thinks/hopes it is, and the licensing and pricing model will alter appropriately. That's how the market for creative works operates: you take a best guess at what you think you will be able to charge and what rights you will be able to grant or withhold, and you see how it pans out.

The per-computer or per-user licensing model of fonts was forced on the digital type business because there was no realistic way to monitor use in print media. The web is a different medium, and it makes possible different licensing models. Over the next couple of years, I think we'll see a lot of different approaches taken by various font vendors, and even if one model today is a showstopper for you personally, I think it is too early to be asking vendors to change that model before it has been seriously tested in the market.

Si_Daniels's picture

"If I was licensing the OTF versions for traditional publishing purposes, this would be like charging me less if my newspaper has a small subscriber count (a local zine) and charging me more if I'm the New York Times."

This would seem totally reasonable, if it weren't for antiquated font licensing model we've grown to know and love since Adobe invented in in the 80's. I agree they should probably provide a discount to existing customers, but new mediums deserve new licensing models, IMHO.

blank's picture

If we changed OTF licensing to reflect how many readers you have, would that make any sense? Why does it suddenly make sense for the web?

Royalty-free digital font licensing was a mistake made in the 1980s that has been perpetuated far too long. Creators of great photos, illustrations, writing, video, music, etc. are all paid royalties. Great type should be the same way. People who don’t think that they should have to pay royalties for great web type do not deserve great web type and need to suck it up and stick to the same old Microsoft font stacks.

And if you don’t think that type designers have the right to just compensation for their work, stop charging by the hour. Just charge every client $780 up front for whatever work they want you to do. Or try actually creating a big font family, and if you ever finish it, see how you feel about giving it up with no limits to every designer who feels he’s entitled to cheap type because actually spending fifteen minutes discussing the cost of fonts with a client is an inconvenience.

Stephen Coles's picture

Hey Rahim. I'm glad you're excited that FF Milo is now available for the web. I'm sorry you're diappointed in the pricing. I didn't set the prices but there are a few of things I feel qualified to respond to:

1. A basic web license at 3/4 the price of the OT version is actually less expensive than I thought it would be.

2. While there is no "upgrade path" yet, I'm sure license upgrade options are being considered for the future, including web/desktop bundles.

3. For a start, maybe consider the FF Milo Serif Web Basic Set at $142 if you can manage without all the weights of the full family.

kari.patila's picture

I've been trying to find out who determines these average monthly page views. Take for example: Alexa claims we get over four times the pageviews we actually get.

This also puts some limitations to how a high-traffic site using webfonts might be built. The current WLT loads a page every time a user clicks on something. The version I'm working on loads content dynamically. That means it only loads the site once, populating the views asynchronously and resulting in a single page view instead of the average 4.5 per user.

Tim Ahrens's picture

Can the "use" of WOFF be controlled by techniques like .htaccess?

That could lead to interesting scenarios, like websites trying to restrict the WOFF pageviews by showing a non-WOFF version to unimportant visitors (whoever that may be in the specific case).

andreas's picture


Don McCahill's picture

I just looked through the FontShop materials on their WebFonts, and was a bit taken aback at the cost of some of the fonts. I could stomach the prices if they included print fonts as well, but that would be an additional purchase, really putting the fonts out of my range. Even if I only needed the fonts for web work, I would want a printable version to produce high quality comps for clients to approve.

I would be more likely to invest in web fonts if they were bundled with screen fonts (at a considerable discount to purchasing both sets separately).

aluminum's picture

"Web FontFonts are licensed by the average pageviews per month "

Well, I see two ways to think about this:

1) Lots of stock photography is licensed this way. So there is precedent in terms of it being a model.

2) Man, what a pain. A licensed based on legal wording that doesn't necessarily match with the technology's use in the real world. I might as well just use Georgia.

I have a hunch #2 is the bigger issue in terms of sales. FF is certainly free to charge what they want in any license they want, and perhaps there will be folks that want to pay those prices for a font for their web site. But the alternatives are so plentiful and cheap that it might not be much of a market.

I can see why Ikea switched to Verdana.

Nick Sherman's picture

In the case of many of these new Web FontFonts, it is probably much more practical for smaller-scale licensees to go with a Typekit subscription. For instance, consider the following…

Cost to license the FF Meta Web Pro Basic Set of 4 styles via FontShop = $197

Cost for use of the full Typekit library of 400+ fonts for 1 year, including those same 4 styles of Meta Web Pro = $49

There are of course cases, like with Milo, where the option to get the fonts via a Typekit subscription doesn't exist and you would be forced to license via FontShop.

There is also the argument of people who would rather host the FontFonts themselves, but in many ways that notion is still invalid for anyone who aims to cover all their bases browser-compatibility-wise: the FontShop option uses Typekit for Safari and Chrome support.

fallenartist's picture

Typotheque's model seems very reasonable:

If I purchased a print font then I'd welcome some sort of discount for web VERSION. For WEB only purchase the prices seem OK.

Nicole Dotin's picture

Here's another way to think of the issue of how web and print use differ. To create thousands of impressions of a newspaper, the font is used once (basically) and those impressions are made by a plate that prints the newspaper - the fonts are no longer used. The web is different because for each impression, the fonts software is used over and over again to serve each page. Arguably, different use than if it were on someone's computer, but distinctions can be made.

I don't agree or disagree with the pricing scheme, but there's certainly something to be said for putting schemes in place. That's a start.

penn's picture


apankrat's picture

Good luck to FF in their uphill battle to change established pricing model to a substantially more expensive one. The one that looks pretty much like double-dipping and therefore is perceived as inherently unfair.

My only wish is that FF were a public company, so that their quarterly financials were public.

dezcom's picture

"If I purchased a print font then I'd welcome some sort of discount for web VERSION."

This makes sense to me as well.

Si_Daniels's picture

The other reason for additional fees is to cover the engineering investment needed for Web-ready fonts - primarily hinting, but also additional engineering and testing work.

Jens Kutilek's picture

Nick wrote: it is probably much more practical for smaller-scale licensees to go with a Typekit subscription [...]

Cost to license the FF Meta Web Pro Basic Set of 4 styles via FontShop = $197
Cost for use of the full Typekit library of 400+ fonts for 1 year, including those same 4 styles of Meta Web Pro = $49

This tells me that if you don't need 400 fancy fonts of mixed quality, but just a professionally produced FF Meta Basic Set, you're actually better off with the FontFont model from the fifth year on, assuming Typekit don't change their prices.

After six years you would have paid $294 to Typekit, or still $197 to FontShop.

I don't know what you mean by small-scale licensee exactly, but even for a small business this would seem a reasonable investment time frame to me.

kari.patila's picture

After giving this some thought, I believe FontFont made the correct choice going with WOFF.

If the only browsers lacking support are Chrome and Safari, they have very little to worry in the long run. The pageview-based pricing also makes the most sense for them and their type designers. Never mind the complexities of tracking the number of views or the seemingly high prices.

Their distribution model, and this is the big deal in my opinion, takes large sites into consideration. Hosting your site's assets on a 3rd party server makes absolutely no sense unless they offer performance parallel to a major content delivery network. Where I'm from, Finland, I pay a penalty even when I choose to load jQuery from Google instead of a local server. Just downloading the 1x1 pixel image required for Google Analytics makes for 10% of the total load time of my company's website. My point being, no sensible administrator is going to use TypeKit on a large scale.

Here's my prediction: FontFont will either set the future standard, or fail gloriously, should the industry fail to understand what they're trying to set in motion.

aluminum's picture

"but even for a small business this would seem a reasonable investment time frame to me"

A website would rarely last 5 years. And, these days, it seems that brand identities are lucky to last that long as well.

Si_Daniels's picture

>FontFont will either set the future standard, or fail gloriously,

I don't see a "fail" scenario around the business model. Ascender had the page-view model six months ago, but has since moved to the fonts as a service subscription model - - the great thing about the Web is you can reinvent yourself if you're agile enough.

Failing on font rendering quality is the bigger risk.

kari.patila's picture

I meant failing or succeeding in establishing the locally hosted distribution model as the de facto standard. Poor rendering quality would kill every distribution model.

Aaron Moodie's picture

I find the idea of charging per page view ridiculous, and totally agree with Rahim on the subject.

This makes about as much sense as paying car companies for every kilometer you drive, even after you have bought the car.

Si_Daniels's picture

>This makes about as much sense as paying car companies for every kilometer you drive, even after you have bought the car.

I think this example justifies the practice. If you license (ie. lease) a car and exceed the lease in terms of miles, you will get charged a per mile fee.

eriks's picture

This makes about as much sense as paying car companies for every kilometer you drive, even after you have bought the car.

I cannot believe anybody would bring cars into the argument. You buy a car for $30,000. The minute you drive it off the yard, it’s worth 3000 less. A year later, you’ve lost 10,000. A cheap car will last perhaps 160,000 km or 100,000 miles; a more expensive one as long as 300,000 km. And a car costs money even when it’s just sitting in your garage.

A font has no wear and tear. I am still using fonts I bought in the late 80s. More expensive fonts last longer because they get upgraded, to OT for example. Designers will specify a typeface because it communicates better than a generic one. Just because type got undervalued in the 80s when they were considered an easy way to sell filmsetters and the PostScript standard doesn’t mean it shouldn’t go back to being considered for its real value.

The good thing: nobody will stop anybody from using Arial. It’s still free, and for good reason: nobody would pay for it.

Don McCahill's picture

Just to throw another wrench into the pricing debate, I remember back in the 80s, when fonts were profitable. That was when they were only purchased by type shops and newspapers. It cost hundreds for each font, which would be a physical disk, filmstrip, or other tangible device.

The way that the companies made money was by changing the format every time they upgraded the machine that used it. Thus the font that works on the Compugraphic II didn't work on the IV (was there a III?). And then when the 7500 came out, another new font library was required.

Perhaps the solution would be to make digital fonts dependent on the OS, so that when you change from WinXP to Win7 you need a new font library.


Si_Daniels's picture

>I remember back in the 80s, when fonts were profitable.

So fonts are not profitable anymore? All those foundries lose money on every sale? But make it up on volume. :-)

lapetino's picture

I agree. This model isn't going to work for me. Even though our site ( isn't yet busting the boundaries of pageviews at the lowest level, this seems like a silly way to define the license. This is far too expensive for what you receive and as has been said earlier in the thread, I want a reasonable upgrade path from fonts I've already purchased, for use on the Web.

While it's true that these are uncharted waters, the licensing seems out of whack with demand. I'm not a type designer (and sympathize with how little compensation you type creators receive) I don't think Web fonts are going to solve that problem in one fell swoop. That's what it feels like these licenses are trying to accomplish for the foundaries. I would advise FontFonts to think about the "long tail" of this and reduce pricing so that ubiquity is the goal--and they will make much more money in selling relatively inexpensive web fonts to *many* people for use, rather than moderately expensive type to a handful. In many ways, getting to the ubiquitous stage could mean the survival/continued relevancy for foundaries in the future Web-enabled age.

RahimSnow's picture

Just saw Typotheque's pricing for web fonts:

Brioni Text Std (bundle)
8 fonts (60.00 per font)
480.00 EUR
(this is the full license which includes print and web)

Brioni Text Std (bundle)
8 fonts (12.00 per font)
96.00 EUR
(this is just web)

One time license cost, unlimited domains. As a potential buyer, I feel a bit appreciated seeing that.

As for others: just because you can set high prices for something doesn't mean you should and it definitely doesn't mean it's good business. It's not just economics. It's also customer relationship. Are you building trust? Isn't that how we think about business in 2010 or is the type industry still following some "rake in as much money as you can, boys" model?

And I'm sorry, just because you are a type designer it doesn't mean money will instantly roll into your lap. It's the same for musicians, painters, songwriters, etc, anyone who does anything for a living. You get paid well when you create lots of value for somebody. You don't get paid just for putting in the hours to create your art. I know you know this, but I think you forget and wish it was otherwise.

Just because you spend years working on something doesn't mean you deserve a million dollars. There are plenty of people who spend years working on 10 songs and have to charge $13.99 for a CD and HOPE they can pay the bills through volume sales. There are people who stayed up all night for 18 months straight to write that iPhone app that now sells for $0.99 and have only 100 people buy it so far.

You can't just create a tool, put it out there, and say, now pay me what I deserve. Are you kidding me? What kind of entitlement mentality is that? "Oh you're going to use my font on your server, I guess I'll charge you for every pageview. I gots to gets whats mine! I have the power, you know. It's a different industry than print. I can change the rules. Yes, I can. Watch me."

You have to create value for lots of people if you want lots of money and attention and praise. Create value, please. Stop thinking like Microsoft who charges us for every last bit of using their stuff when they can, however they can, however they can get away with it. If every software designer charged you for every time you used their software on your computer, you would be broke, bankrupt, and in massive debt collection proceedings. And type designers *like* this model and want to pursue it?

Trust and reputation go very far. Please focus on that. The rest is just bluster.

crossgrove's picture

Rahim, could you maybe specify just who you are saying this to? Your beef seems to be with FontShop re: their pricing model, yet you specifically call out type designers as having an unrealistic entitlement mentality. I think you need to look a little deeper at what it is that type designers do. Mike Abbink spent as much time as the app developers and musicians you name developing your favorite FF font family, most likely on his own, unpaid time. I know Mike, and I know he isn't expecting "a million dollars", and I also suspect he doesn't propose to "change the rules".

Before this gets any more heated, consider once again that we are in the early stages of developing business models around web font licensing, there will be many more efforts, and we'll all have to assess each as it is proposed. Please do not demonize type designers because one foundry's licensing model doesn't fit your budget.

Diner's picture

Rahim, take a look at this thread I started months ago:

It was surprising for me to see most type designers WANT a rental model and very few are open to buy once model . . .


John Hudson's picture

And type designers *like* this model and want to pursue it?

My point in response to your first message is that type designers don't know whether they like this model, because they don't know if it will work in terms of revenue, in terms of customer loyalty, etc. or how these things will balance out. People are experimenting with different models. Your response to FontShop's model is an important one, but its too soon to expect them or anyone else to just change their model because you say they should. What if the revenue from this model turns out to be significantly better than that from e.g. Typotheque's model or the various subscription models?

To me, the problem with basing pricing on number of page hits is that it assumes some kind of correlation between the quantity of hits and the commercial value of the site, and hence the added value contributed by the fonts. This is problematic, because I don't think it is reliably the case. It also assumes that high traffic is an intentional goal of every web publisher, i.e. something that they want and hence are willing to pay for. But of course the amount of traffic a website gets is determined by the visitors, not by the publishers, so one is faced with the awkward situation of e.g. non-profit, non-commercial blogs generating more traffic than the bloggers can afford to license fonts for.

I'm also not generally happy with banded pricing models which, like tax brackets, have built in inequities. A licensee whose site receives 499,000 page hits per month pays the same amount as one whose site receives only 5,000 page hits per month, but another whose site receives 501,000 page hits pays almost four times as much.

RahimSnow's picture


I know we're in the early stages and this is precisely the time to have a debate, conversation, throw down (heated or not) about this matter. The time to have a conversation is not after a monolithic winner has already emerged. And this is a forum to have these conversations/debates, is it not?

Also: I am not demonizing type designers. Demonize is a pretty strong word for these same type designers that I admire. All I'm trying to do is point out that some artists (including type designers) have a cognitive disconnect in their minds between doing their art and wanting to be financially recognized for it and creating value for their future customers.

And so when a foundry says, "hey, why not *rent* your typefaces?" do they jump because it means a bigger paycheck or do they think about the social implications for doing so?

If all my software design friends rented their software, you would have nothing but an operating system and Notepad to run on your machine--because every other piece of software would be metering you 24/7 and charging your bank account at the end of the month.

Is that the world you want to live in?

crossgrove's picture

Rahim: I did not express or imply any support for any licensing model. So I don't know why you are being so defensive. So far you are coming across (to me) as hotheaded. Your language is very strong, and "demonize" isn't too far off from the portrayal you've made of this mythical greedy designer. I don't know any type designer who is that greedy or entitled.

If you consider that a retail typeface, on average, takes decades to pay for itself, if it ever breaks even, your language around greed and entitlement is sounding pretty disconnected as well. It isn't realistic to blame type designers for wanting to take advantage of an opportunity they see opening in a new market for web fonts. Many may not see the dire collapse you predict if subscription licensing models do take hold. I don't expect one single licensing model to replace all others, so I see this change as less than catastrophic.

If you want the situation to change, consider proposing a specific licensing structure to those foundries you disagree with. Tell them what you think are good prices. They might appreciate knowing what your boundaries are.

"And so when a foundry says, "hey, why not *rent* your typefaces?" do they jump because it means a bigger paycheck or do they think about the social implications for doing so?"

Suppose foundries are thinking about both? They aren't mutually exclusive.

Aaron Moodie's picture

@eriks - OK, bad analogy - what about MP3's? no wear and tear there ... an how would you feel if you had to pay the record companies if you played it over a certain amount of times after you'd bought it from iTunes (or where ever)? Or if you bought it when the band wasn't popular and then were hit with an extra fee just because the band was 'back in vouge'.

Stephen Coles's picture

Just a point of clarification on the licensing structure. FSI's goal was to create pricing levels that were most equitable for a broad range of uses. With the three tiers at 500k, 5mil, and 50mil pageviews/month they’re dividing Web FontFont use into broad categories so that a large international corporation isn’t paying the same rate as a personal blog. They chose pageviews because they feel metrics like number of domains and bandwidth aren’t accurate representations of an organization’s popularity on the web, and would often be unfair to the licensee. FSI doesn’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed about “tracking their traffic”, and will only spot-check Web FontFont use from time to time. They simply want to be sure the fonts are licensed properly and fairly. They do not intend to monitor every pageview on every domain. In fact, they don’t even require a domain name when you license. Choosing a webfont license is the same as it has always been for desktop fonts: pick the license that best fits you. Extend when you need to.

> I'm also not generally happy with banded pricing models which, like tax brackets, have built in inequities.

I'm not sure how you get around that unless you have lots of levels (adding confusion) or monitor use systematically.

John Hudson's picture

Aaron: OK, bad analogy - what about MP3's? no wear and tear there ... an how would you feel if you had to pay the record companies if you played it over a certain amount of times after you'd bought it from iTunes (or where ever)?

Digital music is the perrenially bad analogy to digital type, trotted out reliably every few months. Font are not consumer products; fonts are professional tools that add value to publishing. Fonts are not something licensed for private enjoyment by the person who buys the license; fonts are incorporated into published material. So, if you want to find an analogy in the music world, you have to look at something like broadcast rights, which is actually a pretty close analogy to served typography. And what do you find? Radio and television stations do indeed pay by play: they don't buy a CD for $9.99 and with it the rights to broadcast a tune as many times as they like. And why look to music anyway? There are plenty of direct analogies to be found in the rights licensing of other aspects of design: photography and illustration being obvious examples.

Aaron Moodie's picture

@ Stephen For me, the main issue in all of this is that what is being propose is selling a licence, PLUS charging for a service. By definition, a licence gives 'excessive freedom' and 'lack of due restraint'. Exactly what is being proposed does not do.

If foundries want to distribute fonts as a service, rather than a product, then by all means do that. But you can't have your cake and eat it. If this model was put into practice elsewhere, then we'd be paying Adobe not only to licence their software, but also additional fees once we'd produced X amount of documents.

In my opinion, services like Typekit are great. I pay a certain amount for a defined amount of access, without an upfront cost. If I want more access, I pay more. I really think it would be in Foundries best interest to look at rolling out a service like this for print as well as the web.

Aaron Moodie's picture

@john - i think my analogies are getting me into trouble. You're right, and as I mentioned above, I completely agree with a 'pay per play' or paying x amount for y amount of use. What I don't agree with is having to pay a licensing fee in addition to the 'pay per play'. Using your analogy, how long do you think a radio station would stay in business if licensing the right to even play the CD cost a few hundred dollars, and then there was the 'pay per play' fee on top of that?

Illustration and photography? Again, you either pay for a license granting you unrestricted use of that image, or you pay per use. Not both.

John Hudson's picture

There seems to be some confusion.

A designer has purchased a license to use a piece of font software in ways that do not include serving that font on the Internet. He has not bought ‘unrestricted rights’.

Now he is being offered a different license for a different piece of font software that allows him to serve that font on the Internet.

The first license for the first piece of font software is a per user or per device license. The second license for the second piece of font software is a pay per use license.

Si_Daniels's picture


Aaron Moodie's picture

John, no confusion.

Just so we're on the same page, can you explain for me your view/understanding of the 'different piece of font software' that the designer would be paying extra for?

As far as I understand it from the WOFF documentation, a WOFF font file is, quote "simply a repackaged version of a sfnt-based font in compressed form."

You can read more on it here:

RahimSnow's picture


1. What tool will FontFont use to track pageviews?

2. Is there any internal discussion about a substantially reduced price for those who already have the print license, similar to what Typotheque offers?

eriks's picture

you either pay for a license granting you unrestricted use of that image, or you pay per use.

Aaron, perhaps you should stay off the analogies for a while, they don’t make your arguments any clearer.
If you license an image, there are plenty of libraries that license for an exact print run – one fee up to a given number, another beyond that until the next number – just like the proposed webfonts license fee.

And, just as with images, there is a choice of libraries. If you don’t like one model, look for another one. They may not have the perfect image for your purpose, but you have to choose between your ambitions as a designer and what the budget allows. So, if Rahim loves FF Milo and thinks it is perfect for the project on hand, he’ll either get budget from the client – as you would with an image – or go for another typeface if the budget doesn’t allow for a few hundred additional dollars. We all know that you cannot design a decent website that expects a few hundred thousand page views for anything less than five figures, so the webfont license is but a very small portion of that. As you would not use more than four weights of a family on a website, we are talking about $142 for a font that will make this website look beautiful, be on-brand, legible, unique. If that is too much, then there are plenty of choices. Luckily, using less-than-perfect fonts on a website is not a matter of life and death, and nobody will get fined, punished or excommunicated for sticking with Georgia.

You can also rent FontFonts if you don’t mind them being served by someone else.

I am not sure what Rahim means by “social implications”. Do typedesigners have a particular responsibility towards webdesigners? Like making sure they can indulge their typographic phantasies without being disturbed by mundane issues like paying for fonts? What if FontShop International told their 30 or so employees that wages needed to be cut because they were now delivering a social service to the community? Which will love them in return? Will webdesigners starve because of the price of fonts? Does FSI have a monopoly like Microsoft, Apple or Adobe who are all well-known for giving away software?

And to venture an analogy myself: I love buying hardback books. Now and again I will also buy the paperback version of a book, to take it on a trip, to give it away or because I’ve misplaced the original version. Do the publishers give me a break? After all, they only have to take the same data and print it again.
Do they heck.

Finally: who says that volume is the only business model? Ten fonts @ 100 is the same as 100 fonts @ ten, but a lot less hassle with updates, complaints and invoicing. The iTunes model is not the only one. Fonts are not sold by the thousands, let alone millions, and to my knowledge there are no millionaire typedesigners. And if there were: do you expect Steve Jobs to lower the price of Apple products just because he is a millionaire?

Jens Kutilek's picture

Aaron wrote: As far as I understand it from the WOFF documentation, a WOFF font file is, quote "simply a repackaged version of a sfnt-based font in compressed form."

But not necessarily or likely a repackaged form of a font you already own or even can buy.

Sii already said this earlier:

engineering investment needed for Web-ready fonts - primarily hinting, but also additional engineering and testing work.

A WOFF FontFont is, from a technical viewpoint, a completely different thing than the OpenType FontFont by the same name. Different outline format, hinting, OpenType feature support, Small Caps available as an extra font ...

Aaron Moodie's picture

Hi Jens, thanks for clarifying that. I missed Sii's earlier post. I'm not trying to downplay the work involved in making a typeface. I've played around with a few myself, and know the work that goes into them. I just feel that this could be handled another way.

Eriks point above is completely valid, and yes, If I was working on 5 figure websites then it wouldn't be an issue, but this isn't always the case. I know a lot of designers who buy fonts not specifically for a job, but because they love the typeface. I do this, and I love it. It's great to be able to play around with it, knowing that you can use it down the track on a job.

But under the web font licensing agreement, if i purchase a normal .otf font I'm not able to use it online, and then if I turned around and bought the webfont, I wouldn't be allowed to use it on a clients website unless the client themselves purchased a separate license - "each of your clients will need their own licensing for use on their websites" - as mentioned by Ivan here (18th comment)

I just find this disappointing because at present, most sites I work on are mid 4 figures (at most), which means there isn't going to be much room for additional budget for type, and even if I buy a webfont family license for the studio, they are not permitted to be used on external sites for clients.

Aaron Moodie's picture

Though, Eriks, you totally lost me on the hardback book analogy.

Syndicate content Syndicate content